Applying to graduate school requires a number of different steps. You must take the Graduate Management Admission Test and send the score to the graduate schools that interest you. If you receive a low score on the GMAT, you have the option of retaking the test. Graduate schools also require a transcript from your undergraduate college, a completed application packet and several letters of recommendation. Your letters of recommendation are extremely important. Those letters show the admissions board whether or not you’re suitable for the school.
What is a Letter of Recommendation?
A letter of recommendation is a letter that a professional writes to highlight your best features. Graduate schools only have a small amount of space available for incoming students, and those schools want to know that they accept the best students. If you have a low or average GMAT score, positive letters can increase your chances of acceptance. Most graduate schools have an admissions board, and each member of that board looks over your entire application.
What Should Letters of Recommendation Say?
Dr. M. Dennis Jackson, a retired English professor, recommends that you give those writing your letters a copy of your transcript, your resume, information about the schools you want to apply to, and a paper or project you submitted to the professor in the past. Asking your professors is a better choice than asking a supervisor at work. Your professors have some experience with the work you did in their classes. The letters should carefully explain the work you put into your classes, the reasons why you would make a good graduate student, and what you would bring to that school.
Can You Look at the Letters First?
When you ask someone for a letter of recommendation, you have two options. You can read the letter and mail it yourself, or you can give the writer an envelope to mail the letter. Anyone who writes a letter of recommendation must mark on the sheet from the graduate school whether or not you read the letter. Though you likely want to know what your professors say, reading those letters is potentially risky. Graduate schools prefer that applicants do not see the letters because they want to know that the writers were completely honest in their assessments.
Avoiding Common Mistakes
According to a study completed by students at Idaho State University and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, graduate school applicants should be aware of some common mistakes found in letters of recommendation. Admissions officers cite issues relating to inappropriate sources and poor reviews of students. Poor reviews of students often come from professors who have limited contact with students outside of the classroom, while inappropriate sources include letters written by friends and family instead of professors. When applying to an accounting graduate program, your letters can either help you get a spot in the program or leave you with a rejection letter.
Graduate schools with accounting programs want to know that you’re a well-rounded student, and your letters of recommendation help you get that point across. The professors who write your letters should have a clear idea of your skills as a student and how you will fit into the program.